IOP welcomes decision to site SKA centre at Jodrell Bank

30 April 2015

The Institute has welcomed the announcement that Jodrell Bank in Cheshire is the preferred site to base the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.

SKA
Credit: University of Manchester

The announcement was made on 30 April by the SKA Organisation, which said its members had decided that negotiations should start with the UK government to locate the SKA project’s permanent headquarters at Jodrell Bank, where the headquarters for the project’s pre-construction phase is currently housed.

The plan is backed by the UK government via the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and by the University of Manchester, of which the Jodrell Bank facility is a part.

The IOP’s president, Frances Saunders, said: “Jodrell Bank can provide an excellent headquarters for the world's largest radio telescope. We can create a unique campus for one of the most inspirational science projects of the 21st century, and a home for the project that welcomes scientists from around the world.”

The SKA is an array of telescopes that will eventually spread across Australia and several countries in Africa, collectively forming the world’s largest telescope. Construction is due to start in 2018 with the first scientific observations in 2020.

The decision follows a process to choose the preferred site that began in 2014, when bids were invited from members of the SKA. It said: “Two bids were received, from Italy and the United Kingdom, both of which were judged to be excellent and both suitable for the project’s needs. After thorough consideration, the members of the SKA Organisation expressed their preference for the United Kingdom’s Jodrell Bank site as the future home for the SKA headquarters, thanks to the strong package offered by the UK government.”